Saturday 30 May 2020

Norwood family of East Yorkshire

The sky is blue, the cuckoo has been calling and we are still confined largely to our homes. But I have a big garden and there is plenty to do - often at the moment watering everything as it is so dry.

I am not a great TV viewer and so have been spending lots of time on the internet. As many of my regular blog readers know I have a website [], write this blog and also write books and booklets about local history. I enjoy reading and sometimes contributing to the local history facebook sites and saw on the Snaith page that someone was interested in the house called Norwood House aka no 1 George Street.

I was interested in this as the Norwood name had come up when I was researching my book about Eastrington - but I was doubtful that there was a connection.  I was right  about Norwood House - but I did nevertheless find a connection to my Norwoods in Snaith!!

First  the  George Street house. Several contributors to the Snaith fb page believed the house was named after a former occupant called [John] Norwood Howard who was a coal merchant. And they were right I think

John Norwood Howard was born at Snaith in 1913. His father too was a coal merchant  and he and  his wife Edith came originally from Lincolnshire. His mother's maiden name was Norwood and this explains why he gave the name to his son.

Norwood was the youngest member of the family. His eldest brother Stanley Hardy aged 19 was killed in 1918. His name is on the war memorial in the church.

George Street

But also in Snaith is Norwood Villa - no 8 Pontefract Road. It looks Victorian and I wondered who it took its name from.

I found a record from 1955 referring to the death of Mr. Robert Hall Fisher,  of  Norwood Villa, a retired grocer,  who died September 1954  and who  left £22,088. Robert was born in 1867 at Beast Fair where his father was a saddler. In 1901 he was a  grocer living next to Plough Inn,  Beast Fair but by 1911 he was retired grocer living  at Norwood Villa with his wife Annie and daughter Lucy  who died in 1964.

I then searched further back and found references to the death in 1907 of John Turner Norwood.

There were several newspaper reports of his funeral include the following

May 6th 1907. Deep regret is felt in Snaith, Goole, and district, at the death, which took place on Saturday, of Mr. John Turner Norwood, of Norwood Villa, Snaith. The old gentleman, who entered on his 78th year on May 1st, was born at Camblesforth, near Selby. The greater part of his life, however, was spent in Leeds, where he rose from a comparatively humble position to one of considerable importance in the city. He retired from active business life some twenty years ago, and came to reside at Snaith. He took a great interest in farming, and owned two large farms at Drax, close to his native village. He belonged to the old school of farmers, and being  a prominent local speaker, he often roundly denounced with much originality what he described as “the new-fangled notions of the agricultural schools.” For many years he presided over the monthly petty sessions held Snaith, and though a merciful magistrate, he had little sympathy with offending motorists.

  A quiet, though impressive, funeral was that the late J T. Norwood, J.P., Norwood Villa, Snaith, which took place on Tuesday at Drax. The coffin was of plain oak, with brass mountings, and the hearse in which was conveyed from Snaith had drawn blinds. Moreover, there was not a single female in attendance, the chief mourners being the deceased's brother and nephews from Brighton. 

Amongst others present were Messrs G. F. Ogle, Hartley, and Weddall, fellow magistrates; Blair, J.P., medical attendant; Mr E. T. Clark, magistrates' clerk; Messrs R. B. Shearburn, Snaith Hall; Lealey, H. Rawson, Tillage Works, Goole; A. Hartley, Cowick; Superintendent Burkitt, Goole; Inspector Minty, Snaith; and Sergeant Dove, Selby. The Vicar of Snaith officiated in the church, and the committal service was taken by the Vicar of  Rawcliffe (Rev R. Proude). By request there were no flowers.

There is a plaque in his memory in Snaith church

Plaque in Snaith church, courtesy of Chris Watson

John T Norwood first appears living in Snaith in the 1901 census.  He is living alone apart from a housekeeper.

In 1891 he appears living at 16 East Parade in Goole with his aged mother  Ann and sister. His mother died aged 95 in 1894 and his sister remained in East Parade.

The Norwood family

I then looked at John's parents, grandparents and great grandparents. His father was Thomas Norwood born in 1799 and baptised at Howden. His father's address was then given as Yokefleet Grange. 
He had married Ann Wilkinson in 1827 at Adlingfleet, her home village.

Thomas' father was another Thomas born at Saltmarshe in 1767, a farmer who married Alice Turner at South Cave in 1791. It was this Thomas who eventually settled at Camblesforth and who was buried at Drax in 1816. 

His widow Alice, then aged 41, re-married in 1819. Her groom, Samuel Nicholson was a gentleman farmer of Rawcliffe aged 82. This age discrepancy meant that the marriage  featured in several Yorkshire newspapers. Samuel died the following year and one of his heirs, a nephew also called Samuel Nicholson appears in a chancery case. It would be fascinating to know the human story behind these bare facts.

There is a school book of this Thomas Norwood dating from 1785 in the Goole Museum collection

Thomas Norwood's book now in Goole museum, image courtesy of Chris Watson
page 2 of Thomas Norwood's book, image courtesy of Chris Watson

Camblesforth where Thomas Norwood lived

But another generation back and I was in Eastrington.  Thomas [ 1767-1816] was the son of John and Ruth Norwood [nee England] . He was one of a family of at least seven children. John and Ruth had moved from Saltmarshe to Eastrington in the 1770s to take up the tenancy of Townend Farm, then one of the largest farms in the village. 

I had researched their Eastrington life for my book on the history of Eastrington and had found that John was one of the signatories of my 4x  gt grandfather's [George Wise Nurse] will. They farmed and lived next door to each other.
Station Road Eastrington. The original Townend farm is on the extreme left

There were several Norwood sons so it is understandable that their son Thomas should move to farm at Camblesforth. And equally understandable that Thomas and Ann should farm there too.
This was where their five children,  Thomas Wilkinson, John Turner, Alice, Ann Frances and Ruthella were born. 

Thomas and Ann at some point moved to North Cave where Thomas gave his job as auctioneer in 1851. By then their two sons had left home. John was working as the manager of a Leeds flax and wool business with his sister Alice as housekeeper.

Thomas Wilkinson Norwood
But eldest son Thomas took a completely different and very interesting path.  He received a private school education, possibly at Leeds and in 1847 aged 19 went up to St John's College Cambridge. He received his degree in 1851 and entered the church being ordained priest in 1852.
 His first post was as curate of Bollington in Prestbury in Cheshire. Here he met the lady he was to marry. The vicar of Bollington then was Rev George Palmer who died at the untimely early age of 38 in 1852. His widow was the former Jane Gaskell of Ingersley Hall  and she  was left with a young family. 

Meanwhile Thomas was appointed curate of St Paul's in Cheltenham and was chaplain  to the Cheltenham Union. 
Three years after Rev Palmer's death  in March 1855  at St. Mary's Church, Cheltenham Rev. T. W. Norwood married Jane, daughter of the late Thomas Gaskell Eaq., of Ingersley Hall, Cheshire, widow of late George Palmer Esq.
The family were living in Cheltenham in 1861 but in 1867 Thomas was appointed  curate of St Luke's church in Chelsea.  Jane stayed in Cheltenham.
He obviously made a deep impression on the parish in Chelsea as there is a tablet in his memory in the church erected after his death.

The tablet in St Luke's church Chelsea commemorating Thomas Wilkinson Norwood

 In 1878 he was appointed vicar of Wrenbury in Cheshire,  and remained there for the next 29 years.
Jane died in 1880 in Florence.

He was obviously a very interesting and learned man and there are many references to him in newspapers and on the internet. He was a founder member of the SPAB [Society for the Protection of Old Buildings], alongside William Morris,  a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and wrote several papers on gypsies and their vocabulary which are deposited in Liverpool University archive. He worked hard for the church at Wrenbury apparently personally underpinning parts of it 'a very hazardous undertaking'. He was also a keen archaeologist and left his collection of shells and fossils to Cheltenham College.

He resigned the living in  September 1907 - his brother had died in May - and came to his brother's house in Snaith but died on January 31st 1908.
The brothers left substantial  funds which passed to the children of their sister Ruthella.

I was not sure when I began to look at Norwood House in Snaith where  I would  be led. Family history is like that. I still have not found who lived in the George Street house before the Howard family - the deeds might sort that out - or whether John Norwood built Norwood Villa. I would be delighted if anyone has any more information or pictures.

Saturday 16 May 2020

Beating the bounds

I was listening to the radio this morning and the speaker mentioned that tomorrow is Rogation Sunday.

This is the day when the Church  offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labours of those who produce our food.

The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.” Historically, the Rogation Days, the three days before Ascension Day, were a period of fasting and abstinence, asking for God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest.

Traditionally a common feature of Rogation days was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister and churchwardens and the choir would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.

Different parishes had different customs which ranged from choir boys beating the  parish boundary posts with willow wands, choir boys themselves being beaten with willow wands at every marker so that they remembered where the boundaries were, choir boys' heads being  knocked against the markers for the same reason and in Goole, where the boundary was in the river, being dunked.

In May 1948 for example there was the following  newspaper report:

CHOIRBOYS DUCKED. The ceremony was instituted to impress on the minds of the youngest parishioners the extent of the parish boundaries in order to prevent encroachment by neighbouring landowners, and this " impression included some physical chastisement, which at Goole last night took the form of immersion in the river. Choirboys vied for the honour of being ducked in the river at Goole last night, when, for the first time in the history of the parish, the choir of the parish church carried out the ancient ceremony of beating the bounds.

But it is a very ancient ceremony and in Howden there is a footpath called Paternoster Bank off Station Road. This bank was the original boundary of the parish of Howden and was where the parish met with Howden Common and, further along, with the deer park. In the 18th century it was owned by the town and rented out. In 1815 when it was decided to pave the Market Place part of the money was raised by selling the timber growing on the bank.

It takes its name from the first two words of the Lord's Prayer Pater Noster [Our Father] as this prayer would have been said at each boundary marker on Rogation Day.

Local churches do still hold Rogation Day walks and services but unfortunately not this year. We are all still gardening and baking and discussing whether our sour dough has worked or whether the pigeons have eaten our cabbage plants.

Howden church choir

Howden church choir - Rev Graham and music director Andrew Leach

Friday 1 May 2020

Rawcliffe Bridge farms

The weather is cooler and so I am not so keen on gardening. Today is May Day, traditionally a day of fun and celebration but we are still confined in our own homes and so perhaps that will have to wait.

While we are ' locked down' however we can still talk to our friends. In my case some of these friends - are also students in my local history classes.  We normally come up with interesting topics during our meetings but now I keep in touch with them in other ways and and we have been discussing the area around Rawcliffe Bridge.

This was instigated by a picture which appeared on a facebook post, submitted by Roland Chilvers. The picture was captioned Rabbit Hills farm, Rawcliffe Bridge 1929.

Rabbit Hills farm 1929, courtesy of Roland Chilvers

I sent a copy of the picture to my friend Pauline, who was brought up in Rawcliffe Bridge and wondered if she knew anything about the men in the picture and/ or the farm.

Pauline is a very keen and thorough researcher and this set her thinking. The Rabbit Hills area was an ancient piece of land but after World War One the West Riding council bought the Rawcliffe Hall estate  and divided much of it into farms. In 1923 she found an advert asking for potential tenants for several farms, with preference given to ex-service men.

One of these was George Alfred Almond.  He was an ex-serviceman originally from the Swinefleet area and had married the former Emily Drury at Swinefleet in 1921. This fits in with what another lady, Heather posted. She  said that a member of the long-established Sykes  family  of Rawcliffe remembered that George farmed at Rabbit Hills with his wife Emily. They had two children Jim and Mary. Mary married Rex Wood who had Villa Farm in Snaith and Jim worked at Fisons.

Another friend, Steven, asked his father, David Goulden who used to live in Rawcliffe and he too remembered the Almond family.

George we believe later lived at White City on Rawcliffe Road and a family called Lewis took Rabbit Hills.

Pauline also sent me some of her memories of the farms in the 1940s. 

   I spent my junior school years living at Black Drain Head, a cottage and pumping station at the side of the River Don, about halfway between Rawcliffe Bridge and Newbridge.  Our nearest neighbour was Maurice Baldry at Plum Tree Farm. When we arrived he was a single man and Mr and Mrs Thompson lived with him. When we left in 1948, he was married and daughter Barbara had just arrived. Son Colin arrived not long after.

Then, in memory,  off I went down Johnny Moor Long, first Mr Procter, and then Norman Lifesey’s smallholding at the corner of Greenland Lane, the Torn family at Greenland Hall and Philip & Jean Micklethwaite at the Fox & Duck which was also a pub. It now has its original name, Fox Gate Farm. I liked Jean. Before she married, she was a bus conductress on the Majestic buses that ran from Doncaster to Goole. 

The memory can play funny tricks at times because a lot of people remember the Blue Line & green Reliance buses on the same route, but I’ve yet to find someone who remembers the red buses with wooden seats. (sorry – I got side-tracked.)  Greenland Lane ran straight from Johnny Moor Lane back to the river bank and turned just short of Newbridge.  

Close to where the lane now bridges the M18, were the Scrutons and the Fox brothers and a bit further along, the Chafers. I don’t remember the family but son David started Goole Grammar School while I was there.

When I was asked about Rabbit Hills farm I remembered that there was a farm at the back of the Rabbit Hills but I thought it was Langham Farm.  What did I remember?  Leaving Rose Hill & walking towards the railway station, I passed a farm on the left. That was Mr Scawthorne who was also the village milkman until Northern Dairies arrived.  

At the side of the first entrance to the Rabbit Hills was a large house called “North View” and for a short time, about 1946, the Hedges family came home from India to live there. School mistress Mrs Banham sat daughter Elizabeth with me in a double desk.  The entrance to the wood at the side of this house was the only one I ever used which was quite often when a group of small children, after Sunday school, would be searching for treasures to put on the Nature Table in the classroom on Monday morning. 

The other entrance, which is still there, was opposite the two large houses close to the station. Mr and Mrs Rowntree, who were members of our chapel, lived at Woodlands and Mr & Mrs Hargreaves, both teachers at Goole Grammar School, lived at Wynne House. The lane from this entrance leads to Rabbit Hills Farm. Was there a Langham Farm? 

  Looking at local maps, there were two more farms close by: South Farm and Langham Farm. The address for both farms was New Lane. This led from Mill Lane, the short cut from Rawcliffe station to Cowick. The Langham Interchange cut through New Lane but South Farm survived.  So was Langham Farm lost under the motorway? It’s almost half a century since the motorway ploughed through this area and the local people have forgotten what it looked like. Of all my local contacts, only one could remember Rabbit Hills Farm because her Mother worked there for a Mrs J Lewis.
     And there are the Dobeller farms and Pastures farms and Bridge farm, Bankside & Decoy just for starters and no photographs of any of them. I have one photo of Dobella Farm where I was sent to buy fresh eggs.

Pauline and her friend Shirley on the river bank at Black Drain Head

Dobella/ Dobeller Farm
We would be delighted if anyone else has memories or pictures to add to this information or,  of course, corrections.